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James Daniell, judge of the united counties of Prescott and Russell, and member of the board of county judges, was born at Carrickmacross, in the county of Monaghan, Ireland, on the 23rd of November, 1822. His parents, Stanis and Eleanor (Dawson) Daniell, emigrated to Upper Canada, during the spring of 1823, and settled upon Dundas street, township of Toronto, on the farm where Sydenham village now stands. He resided with his parents most of his time until about sixteen years of age. He studied law with George Duggan, the late recorder of the county of York; was admitted an attorney in 184.5, and called to the Bar in 1846. In April, 1845, he traveled to London, Ont., with the Hon. S. B. Harrison, Hon. Henry John Boulton, William Campbell (the well known clerk of assize), and John Duggan (all of whom, except the Judge are now dead), in the old Britannia steamer, from Toronto to Hamilton, and from Hamilton to London in a stage. He reached London the Sunday that the town was almost totally destroyed by fire.
The Judge opened an office in partnership with George and John Duggan, which partnership expired at the end of three years. When alone, he did a very large business, and was one of the leading lawyers in Western Canada, being several times employed by the Government on very important matters. It may be said as a fact, that through his influence and means was established the first Reform paper in London, the London Free Press. Mr. William Sutherland, to whom the Judge gave assistance, conducted this paper until the present manager was brought in, and who, with the Judge’s assistance, waged war for the Liberal party of Canada, until what was then the Liberal party of Canada ceased to exist. From that time he gave up politics altogether. While a resident of London, he was for many years a member of the town and city council, and for eight or ten years chairman of the board of school trustees. He was the prime mover in building and establishing the present “Union Free School” in London, and laid the foundation stone of that building. This was one of the first free schools in Ontario.
In 1861, Judge Daniell went to Hamilton, and did a very extensive and lucrative law business. In 1863 he accepted a seat upon the Bench as Judge of Prescott and Russell. He is said to be an excellent lawyer, having keen and quick perceptions, at once making up his mind as to any question of law or fact, remains firm in his rulings. He is never heard to speak during the trial of a cause, except when called upon to decide some question, or when addressing a jury. His words are few and to the point.
The Judge is intimate with, and very courteous to the Bar, and possesses its highest respect.
His counties were grouped with the county of Carleton, and he now holds the courts in these counties with Judges Ross and Lyon of Ottawa.
We have already intimated that he is a member of the board of county judges, there being five of them. The other four are Messrs. Gowan, of Barrie; Jones, of Brantford, Hughes, of St. Thomas, and McDonald, of Guelph, all mentioned elsewhere in this book.
Judge Daniell is well known throughout the Dominion of Canada. Few men are better known.
In 1859, he married Elizabeth Muir, daughter of the late John Muir, Esq., of Rothesay, Scotland, Factor of the Marquis of Bute. Four children, the issue of this marriage, two sons and two daughters. The latter only are living.